The Swiss-German philosopher of Korean origin, Byung-Chul Han continues, book after book, to set out his thoughts. Three years ago, La Civiltà Cattolica published an introduction to his work on time. His writings are numerous, but always accessible for their form and clarity. They draw a lucid map of our contemporary society. Their echo can be measured by the numerous translations that have been made of them, even if the author remains far from the media game and discreetly continues teaching at the Universität der Künste in Berlin, a post he has held since 2012.
Published in 2019, Vom Verschwinden der Ritual. Eine Topologie der Gegenwart (The Disappearance of Rituals: A Topology of the Present) is not his last book, and more have come out since then, but we present it here because the theme of ritual is particularly interesting for believers, whose lives are marked by participation in more or less ancient rituals. Moreover, it develops well the theme of time, since the experience of the believer is also that of a certain structuring of time, both personal and community-based.
The author’s central insight is that in our consumerist and hyper-secularized societies we suffer from a cruel absence of rituals, yet deciphering our societies from this point of view would make them more intelligible. The philosopher was already talking about this problem 10 years ago, emphasizing the absence of “rites and ceremonies.” Let us now retrace the threads of his thought.